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Horn Book(Young Adult)
In William Taylor's novel The Blue Lawn (reviewed 5/99), two gay teens survive a car crash and, giddy with relief, find themselves holding hands for the first time. In Dare Truth or Promise, another New Zealander author also recasts that old clich, of gay teen novels, changing a plot element of destruction into one of restoration: the car wreck near the end of Paula Boock's novel serves to jumpstart the healing of two girls' broken hearts. From the beginning, Willa and Louie's relationship is difficult-they have to sneak around and lie, and when Louie's mother catches them in bed together, the girls fight and split up. But their story has its moments of bliss, too, and-best of all-a happy ending. A limited omniscient point of view follows each girl in alternating chapters, so readers are equally acquainted with both characters and their situations. This is Louie's first love; she's amazed but not alarmed that she's fallen for a girl. Willa's been in love once before, but the relationship was a disaster. Willa's single-parent mom may not understand her daughter, but she loves and accepts her wholeheartedly; Louie, however, finds herself lying to her parents and wondering how to reconcile her religion and her love for Willa. As in Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind, the descriptions of the girls' attraction and longings are authentically rendered. Lesbian readers will see themselves, and straight readers will see what gay teens already know-that the feelings of young love are the same for everyone. j.m.b.